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CHILDREN DON’T START WARS

DAVID GRIBBLE

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I would like to express my gratitude to the following people, for information, translation, inspiration, criticism, encouragement, help with sources and/or correcting my versions of their ideas:Alison talli!rass, "rimrose omme, #enifer mith, $imsy adofsky, arah $c%rum, &ick 'itto, $ary #ohn, #ill (annam, (anrahan (iggs, #onathan )ranklin, #oe )in!ow, 'ristin *skeland, #udy &unn, imon &avies and of course my own family, in particular +ynette, *mma and ,athan&avid .ri!!le

a little child again that I may enter into the 'ingdom of . and !ecome. which I now unlearn.odfrom Centuries of Meditations. as it were.4hey3re already an old personfrom Wally's Stories.ussin "aley 0ith much ado I was corrupted. !y 4homas 4raherne ./ 0ally 1aged five2: "eople don3t feel the same as grown-ups4eacher: &o you mean 5children don3t56 0ally: 7ecause grown-ups don3t remem!er when they were little. and made to learn the dirty devices of this world. !y 8ivian .

*+*8*. 4*.4 %(A"4*. :. 4(.A"(E 4he glory and the freshness of a dream 4he things which I have seen A somewhat more o!>ective chapter 0here is it now6 ands chool 4he first %hildren3s (earing 4he %hildren3s (earing in . 40*+8* %(A"4*.&IA :.** 7I7+I:. *8*.(4**. %(A"4*. %(A"4*. )I8* %(A"4*. *8*. ):@.io 4he discovery :!>ections $ore o!>ections 4he light of common day 4hou !est philosopher (eavy as frost Allowing children to direct their own lives And at school. %(A"4*. 40: %(A"4*. IA4**.4**. *I. too ud!ury 8alley chool %onfirmation from other sources trength in what remains !ehind Adult thinking and children3s thinking *xtract from my diary %hildren3s appeal to world leaders < 2= 2? /9 9/ <1 <B ?C ?D BD D2 1=9 119 12? 1// 199 1<1 1?2 1B9 1B< 1BB 1C= ..** %(A"4*. *I.4*. %(A"4*.4**. IA %(A"4*. %(A"4*.* A""*. 4(I.* %(A"4*.I. %(A"4*. %(A"4*. .&IA 40: A""*.(4 %(A"4*. )I)4**.9 %:.4**.&IA 4(.* %(A"4*. %(A"4*. ):@. A""*. %(A"4*.

$ainly chool. and although it is an unpopular idea.Although there is no reason to suppose that our moral sensitivity should !e exempt from this general decline. flexi!le and relia!le after the age of a!out twenty-five. you can3t !e a soldier no more. 7y night or day.In a gang once you pass the limit of twenty-one you !ecome one of the !ig-heads. where many of the students were . and every common sight 4o me did seem Apparelled in celestial light.s. you !ecome like wiser. they call them original gangsters.< CHAPTER ONE THE GLORY AND THE FRESHNESS OF A DREAM 4here was a time when meadow.5 he said. there is incontroverti!le evidence that our intellects also !egin to !ecome less alert.4o them you3re old. the notion that children might !e morally superior to their elders arouses an indignation that is sometimes close to furyA nineteen-year-old former mem!er of the %hicago gang culture gave me an illustration of the corrupting effect of age and power when I visited the &octor Al!iFu %ampos "uerto . the suppression of altruism is taught at school and selfish conformity grows as we adapt to adult societyIt is o!vious that our physical skills decline with age. 4he earth.I shall show that our capacity for empathy !egins to decline at the latest in early childhood. 5is what you call the :. grove and stream. you know.ican (igh former gang mem!ers54he old ones. 4he things which I have seen I now can see no moreWilliam Wordsworth 4he purpose of this !ook is to demonstrate that as we get older we not only hear and see less well and !ecome physically and mentally less agile !ut also !ecome less good at making rational moral decisions. you3re no more use to them !ecause you3re already old. 4he glory and the freshness of a dreamIt is not now as it hath !een of yore:4urn wheresoe3er I may.

Adults do4he conventional view is that adults have a monopoly on wisdom.+ike so many other people. and most of us do not even put this opposite view into words in our own minds.s in the same way as governments use young men. they3re always having sessions and making !usiness with each other. the struggles that are happening to them.4hey don3t know the meaning of the fight that they do. supported !y !usinessmen who do deals.In national wars of aggression it is the twenty-year-olds who are sent out to kill one another while the politicians stay safely at home. I mean eleven. real young kids that are all out there killing each other over a street that doesn3t even !elong to them..4he first seven chapters of my !ook descri!e this !ackground.evertheless it is close to the surface of the consciousness of our present ageH once you take it seriously you find confirmation in unexpected GuartersI first framed this opposite view in words after I heard a short speech made !y a twelve-year-old . !ecause I see all these shorties dying over things that they don3t even know a!out. twelve. !ut to my surprise I found on reflection that I had pro!a!ly known it all my life. you know.In spite of this.wandan girl3s speech was the culmination of a variety of reading and experience. I answer the .? the soldiers are all young people.%hildren don3t start wars.io environmental conference in 1DD2. while youngsters are out there killing each other and everything-5 4he children are used !y the :.4hen.4hey3re fighting over things that they don3t even know what they3re really fighting for. when I wrote down an approximation in a diary. and children3s opinions are not to !e taken seriously. I had suppressed it !ecause it seemed outrageous4he . after Guoting the speech and stating my theme !riefly once again. and in spite of the fact that my whole life had !een su!consciously directed !y this very idea. with all the heads.4hose of us who disagree are ashamed to express an opposite view for fear of seeming naive. I had never !efore dared to express it.It3s !ad..4his extreme example of older people leading younger ones into the ultimate immorality which is war can only !e explained !y an acGuired !lindness or indifference to the suffering of others.It seemed like a new discovery.wandan girl at the .. thirteen.And mainly what I don3t understand is that all that violence is going on while the heads of every single gang is always smoking with each other.I certainly knew a!out it at the age of twenty.

4. I dressed in comical clothes and I could disperse a group of chatting children in a few minutes simply !y sitting down to >oin the chat.4his is not to say that I was not fond of the children. pushing cars along or talking to toys. !ut it is always trying to !ecome one.Eou have to retire from the world of international sport twenty or thirty years earlier than you have to retire . !ut I !ecame too old4owards the end. and !oth they and the younger children en>oyed themselves:4(*.I retired at sixty.B more o!vious o!>ections. nor that they were not fond of meH it is not even to say that we did not understand one anotherH it was >ust that it was finally plain that our interests and customs were not the same. I was una!le to >oin in !ecause I did not understand the principles of the gamesH all I could do was interfere and play on my own terms4en-year-olds.7ecause of the sort of person I am. and !ecause of the sort of school I taught in.I* "hysical decline with age is o!serva!le and inevita!le. were a!le to >oin in effectively. offer further support from psychological research.A+ I. if I >oined in with children3s games on the terrace I could only !e a lum!ering outsider who had to !e treated with consideration. :. In 1DD2 I retired from teaching. "*:"+*3 $*$:.0hen they played imaginative games.It is an independent day school where children and staff share responsi!ility for all decisions. in south &evon. I have had a closer relationship with children than most teachers do. !ecause the kind of relationship I needed in order to teach as I thought right had !ecome impossi!le)or the last five years I had !een teaching at ands chool.I didn3t like the music the children liked.:&@%4I:. that we !elonged to different culturesI had had a similar insight twenty-five years earlier. share the domestic chores and maintenance >o!s and share the whole social space I there is no staff room. earlier than was strictly necessary. analyse some of the differences !etween children3s and adults3 moral stances.ands is not a @topia. descri!e places where children have flourished without moral standards !eing imposed !y adults and in the final chapter draw attention to the implicationsI shall start cautiously !y introducing myself and discussing early childhood memories I a few of my own !ut mostly other people3s- A "*.$y opinions a!out films or television programmes were the irrelevant opinions of an old man.It was a school that suited me perfectly. on the other hand. when my own children were going to nursery school.

4hose of us who are !eginning to need glasses will know the astonishment of finding something !y touch which we knew was not there !ecause we had already looked. !ut surprisingly little is made of it)or some reason it is Guite happily accepted that children can hear !ats sGueak and the middle-aged can3t.4his experiment is presuma!ly conducted in many schools. and the pace of deterioration gradually accelerates.evertheless. kidneys. rapidly at first and then more slowly in older people."ost-mortems on 8ietnam soldiers revealed that arteries !egin to fur up early.I heard nothing.:f course most of us can hear the tones of freGuencies we encounter in daily lifeH if we didn3t we wouldn3t encounter them.If something can !e neither seen nor heard nor felt then it does not have any concrete existence. !ut the idea that there is a whole range of sounds that we cannot hear. which gradually descended until we could her it0e were told to raise our hands as soon as we could hear it.)reGuencies higher than those encountered in daily life !y the middle-aged !egin to disappear from our range while we are still childrenI o!served this !eing demonstrated !y a science teacher at ands chool. such as the heart.C from teaching.I watched while the youngest children raised their hands.In some respects this decline starts very much earlier than we like to think. sensations that we can no longer experience and colours that we can no longer distinguish we find almost incredi!le. suddenly.An example of this is the way the *ncyclopaedia 7ritannica tells us that hearing does not change much with age 5for the tones of freGuencies usually encountered in daily life5 1though it admits that a!ove the age of fifty we !egin to lose the a!ility to perceive the higher freGuencies2.4he older children raised their hands. after all that silence. it is true that our senses !egin to deteriorate in some respects long !efore we are adults.4he staff !egan to raise their hands. and heard nothing.Accommodation of the lens of the eye decreases at a constant rate from the age of five(owever o!vious any particular aspect of this decline may !e.:ver the lifespan many organs. most people make an effort to avoid seeing it.%hildren really do see and hear things in a way that is no longer possi!le for adults. I heard the noise.0hen 0ordsworth wrote 54he things which I have seen I now can see no more5 he was telling the literal truth- .And then. !rain and lungs show a gradual decline.I heard nothing. strictly in order of age.A group of people of various ages listened while she played a recording of a sound too high-pitched for the human ear.4he num!ers of olfactory and optic nerve fi!res decrease4he rate of wound healing decreases with age. loud and clear.

!ecause not all of them doH I am going to Guote auto!iographies !ecause the authors descri!e childhood experiences at first hand.I mean literally. !ut at &own there were more things to worship than anywhere else in the world- I am going to Guote often from auto!iographies in these first two chapters.averat3s emotion. adored.I adored those pe!!les.4his passion made me feel Guite sick sometimes. or the feel of the wet grass on my !are feetH or the pe!!les in the path. not !ecause the Guotations I shall use offer any proof I after all. and !ecause the accumulation of examples in itself is not without weight. !ut not !ecause it can !e proved. !ecause none of them are.4hey were not loose.wen .+ong after I have forgotten all my human loves.After all. and it is pro!a!ly the most important thing in life.I can remem!er feeling Guite desperate with love for the !listers in the dark red paint on the nursery window-sills at %am!ridge.D 4hey don3t >ust see and hear them differently. !ut stuck down tight in moss and sand. and in the ends of your fingers. worshipped. nor !ecause they command general respect. %harles &arwin3s grand-daughter.I accept the strength of . from some sea !each.averat. as if they had !een polished. too.wen . or the !listers in the red paint that she loved so desperately. !ecause the experiences they descri!e are not unfamiliar to the rest of us. occasionally have a sense of overwhelming and entirely spontaneous love for an o!>ect. there is no way of proving that a given thought has passed through anyone3s mindH all that can !e said is that it seems likely to have done so.In the long run it is this feeling that makes life worth living. there were things to worship everywhere.4his kind of feeling hits you in the stomach.averat actually says that the kind of feeling she experienced 5is pro!a!ly the most important thing in life-5 Adults. and were !lack and shiny.:f course I never saw .wen . it seems to fit in with the pattern of one3s own personal memories. writing a!out her early childhood in her !ook Period Piece:)or instance.And it was adoration that I felt for the foxgloves at &own. I shall still remem!er the smell of a goose!erry leaf. the authors3 experiences might !e totally untypical or even wrongly remem!ered I nor !ecause the authors are authorities on psychological development. and for the stiff red clay out of the andwalk clay-pitH and for the !eautiful white paint on the nursery floor. they appreciate them differently4his is .wen . !ut there were things that I loved in the same way4he sensation that occurs to me at the moment is of the smell of woodsmoke in my grandmother3s drawing-room.averat3s adored pe!!les. this which is the driving force !ehind the artist3s need to create:f course. !ut it seems to get rarer with age- . the path in front of the veranda was made of large round water-worn pe!!les.

the door swung open and a rush of hot scented air was all around me.And I3d lie in his arms and drift off to sleep. 5It was wonderful.ational Adviser to the "re. !oth physically and emotionallyIt was a !itterly cold day and I was shut out of the house as usual in a cotton frock and knickers and without shoes. I was playing in a deep cart-rut puddle and I was totally a!sor!ed in what I was doing. then I stirred it up too hard and lost it.I could feel the soft mud sGuelching up !etween my toes and round my ankles. >ust the warmth and the happiness. even when they were as pleasant as theseH it was only with some prompting that people were a!le to revive what were plainly extremely valua!le experiences. Play is a feeling4hese are not necessarily the memories of literate people who would later !e a!le to write auto!iographies. used to ask parents who came to her seminars for memories of their early childhood. which was funny.chool "laygroups Association.7ut I didn3t feel the cold.And afterwards everyone would go into the front room and my father used to take me on his lap. and then I stopped and the mud settled and it came !ack again."erhaps the memory is . the first . all the grandparents and aunts and uncles and everyone. and there was a worm floating in the puddle.wen . I >ust sat and drifted and didn3t want to come !ack-5 &escriptions like these show a delight that we seem to lose as we get older. and the great !ig tomatoes shone red among the green leaves and I >ust stood there and it was the most wonderful moment of my whole lifeI can remem!er on undays the whole family came to dinner. and the voices coming and going and coming again in waves- 5$arvellous5.he had !een seriously mistreated as a child.randad unlocked the door. and then the voices would come nearer and I3d wake up I then they3d fade away againIt was marvellous.I had a stick and I could make it wiggle as I stirred the water.And then it happened.1= 7renda %rowe.averat4his first extract is from an account of a conversation with a woman whose !ackground could hardly have !een more different. 54he most wonderful moment of my life5. and they would talk. !eing held.:ddly enough 7renda %rowe usually found it difficult at first to evoke any memories of early childhood. and a third remem!ered unday dinners with the whole family0hen we got there the windows were all grey and misty and I couldn3t see in.I >ust sat and drifted and didn3t want to come !ack- Another parent present at a seminar remem!ered walking hand in hand with her grandfather as he went to open his greenhouse. !ut they show the same intensity of feeling as that descri!ed !y .ome of these memories appear in her !ook.I forgot everything except thatIt was wonderful. so I >ust stood still while .

!ut a child3s grief.J And our en>oyments.And will anyone tell me that we did not love these things as much as we have learned to love them since6 It seems o!vious to me that in those days we loved them more. within those limits. when I look !ack on the friendships of childhood they do not seem to differ in either Guality or intensity from those of grown-up years. !ut the idea that we also have an in!orn understanding of right and wrong I original virtue. writes of friendships as well as sensationsJ .5&on3t !e silly..ill is !old enough to say that 50e loved one another-5 Auto!iographers in general are much more likely to o!serve that they and their peers hated one another.evertheless. %(:: I.5 we may have !een told.0e loved one another.5It3s only grandad3s tomatoes0e3ll !e having them for tea soon-5 7ut surely we all have some such memories I lying flat on the turf and watching the clouds pass. not least !ecause auto!iographers attach much more importance to their own childhood. !ut the moral direction of education is now sometimes Guestioned. stroking the sca! on an old cut. even if it is only over a lost toy. though more limited in physical scope.A child3s tears may sometimes !e a social tool to achieve an end.54he chief thing that I learned at school.eill calls it I is seldom consideredH the !est we are likely to allow the infant is a wishy-washy innocence4he standard view used to !e that children were !orn evil and had to !e educated to !ecome good. in his !ook Autobiography.0e loved the flowers and the hills.wen .11 suppressed..In :s!ert itwell3s four-volume auto!iography he does not !ecome an adult until volume .ill. listening to footsteps on the stairs or watching the curtains over the window*ric .In fact there was pro!a!ly at least as much love as hatred. ):.A"(I* I have chosen to Guote auto!iography rather than !iography.5 says . 5was how to tell lies-5 .And of course not all children3s sorrow is !rief*ric .*A :. !ut it takes courage to confess to virtue."sychiatrists tell us that our early experiences are the most important in forming our characters4hey do not usually say that this is in part !ecause we feel them so much more deeply.averat in the !ook I have !een Guoting."eople often talk a!out original sin.4he fact that small children3s >oys and sorrows are often freGuent and !rief does not make them any less deeply felt. were.. may well !e profound. as A. seeing the sun shining pink and yellow right through our closed fingers. as intensely felt and consciously known as any that grown-up people can know I or.0e loved the sunsets and the !irds and the !easts. A@4:7I:. and a child3s >oy seems a!undant enough for everyone who o!serves it to have a share. for I can only speak for myself. as intense and conscious as any that I have known since.

rather than accounts of events. leads even auto!iographers to tend to start with long historical and o!viously researched descriptions of family !ackground.*%:++*%4I:. though. 'I. and many adults seem to !e cautious a!out relying too heavily on their own perceptions when they write a!out their childhoods.0e are not confident of the accuracy of our recollections !ecause so often we were not taken seriously at the time.All too often children learn not to expect to !e taken seriously. !ut author after author commends this or that grandparent or adult friend of the family for listening seriously and talking to children as if they were the same age.4hen came the gathering of larch cones and the careful grading of them !y siFe.:s!ert itwell found an enlightenment that adults often work for years to achieveH it happened to him without effort when he was fiveJ I ran to the edge of the precipice and stood there looking straight into the face of the evening sun.4he authority of the event. the importance we attach to the apparent verifia!ility of accounts of things which are supposed to have happened. Another person who spoke to 7renda %rowe told of a delight in setting things in orderAn Irish >ournalist remem!ers kneeling under larch trees and raking the dry dust and fallen larch needles into runnels with wide-spaced fingers.wen . then !uilding up the ridges into parallel lines that were higher and deeper than !efore.4he sort of perception that I am picking out to use as illustration is not likely to !e o!serva!le at second handI have !een seeking expressions of personal feelings and attitudes. and how terri!ly important it was that every cone was exactly the right siFe. as opposed to accounts of things people may have felt.It was immensely satisfying kneeling there in the sun.12 three. and the largest ones on the !ack ridge. .averat among them. working so meticulously-3 4hat depth of concentration and immense satisfaction are things that we often seek as adults.4he light !athed the whole world in its am!er and golden rays.apier was unusual in writing of the shame of !eing laughed at !y adults for reasons she did not understand. and to hedge themselves a!out with researched information and light self-mockeryA.& :) . the smaller ones !eing set up on top of the front ridge. and seldom find. the medium ones on the second ridge. and that they were placed exactly the same distance apart.:4(*. and include plenty of amusing anecdotes of errors and minor humiliations that are more likely to !e a part of family folk-lore than of personal memory."riscilla .7renda %rowe also stresses how important it is for children that adults should take them seriously.3I can remem!er the depth of concentration. and many writers. seeming to link . have chosen to write !ooks entirely a!out their own childhood.

we do not usually remem!er this sense of unity sufficiently clearly to regret its loss- . lying in !ed and knowing !eyond Guestion that the world was an utterly !eautiful place and that whatever happened in the world it was in some incomprehensi!le way right.averat3s love and :s!ert itwell3s sense of unity may !e different ways of descri!ing the same experienceI hope that the various Guotations in this chapter have !een enough to show that such experiences of total involvement are a perfectly normal part of childhood0hat is extraordinary is that. doctrinaire religion is likely to seiFe upon them as support for its ela!orate creeds.I also particularly remem!er one occasion when I was recovering from an illness. so that I felt myself at one with my surroundings.If they relate to something real then a description such as :s!ert itwell3s is complete and no further exegesis is needed.averat said that the kind of experience she was descri!ing. or to something imaginary. catching them in its warm. diaphanous net. of the detailed precision of the landscape. and yet at the same time infinitely important !ecause of !eing a part of the 5!oundless immensity5.I do not like such words. part of the general creation.wen . or passionate delight in a worm floating in a puddle are the same kind of experience.Eou do not need the vastness of a seascape to give you a sense of the infiniteuch experiences are often descri!ed as mystical or spiritual. their liveliness and their capacity to !e happy.wen .Awe at the !eauty of tomatoes. utterly insignificant !efore its vastness. for instance her love for the !u!!les in the paint. divided from it !y no !arriers made !y man or devil- ometimes I still faintly experience some such sensation when I stand on a shore and watch the sea.If you use them to descri!e your experiences.1/ up every o!>ect and every living thing.(e also felt united with 5even the detailed precision of the landscape-5 . was pro!a!ly the most important thing in life4his perhaps !ecomes more convincing when it is allied to :s!ert itwell3s rather more grandiose identification with his surroundings. part of this same !oundless immensity of sea and sky and. although we may envy children their sharper senses. even.4he experiences relate either to something real. !ut when I was a child it was not a sensation !ut a certainty.

4here also exists a kind of hierarchy of relative values as regards the various mental a!ilities themselves.3 )I.$ore recently (oward .. it is interesting to look at what 0echsler seems to have proved as long ago as 1D/D.7ut the view still persists even though such facts are now availa!le.$any of our intellectual a!ilities show a greater impairment with age than do our physical ones(itherto the common view has !een that our mental a!ilities. remain relatively unimpaired until rather late in life 1senility2.:nce the decline !egins it progresses continually. it is also the general reaction to them4hese are Guotations from 0echsler himself: *very human capacity after attaining a maximum !egins an immediate decline. including scientists. unlike our physical a!ilities.4he age at which the maximum is attained varies from a!ility to a!ility !ut seldom occurs !eyond /= and in most cases somewhere in the early 2=3s.4here is very little a!out it in the psychology text-!ooks.0e also lose something in that area of intelligence that is measured !y intelligence tests.&I. or to deny that the decline is either necessary or universal7ecause it is so little discussed. !ut seldom of their poor >udgement or common sense- . hate to !elieve that they are not as mentally alert at <= as they were at 2=)ew people are concerned when told that at 9= they cannot hear or fight as well as when they were 2=.$ost people.19 ADDENDUM TO CHAPTER ONE &A8I& 0*%( +*.ardner has propounded the theory that IK is measures only one of a num!er of different intelligences. they certainly measure something.--.oleman has shown that what he calls emotional intelligence is a !etter predictor of success in life than the intelligence measured !y the 0echsler tests."rofessor %attell long ago called attention to the fact that people are ever ready to complain a!out their !ad memory.4his is a scientifically demonstrated deterioration that seems to !e systematically ignored.And it is not only 0echsler3s conclusions that interest me. !ut are Guite 3het up3 when informed that they pro!a!ly also cannot calculate or reason as well. !ut however you rate the importance of those tests. and &aniel .4his was an unsu!stantiated hypothesis tena!le only so long as no facts were at hand to oppose it. and the psychologists who I have spoken to a!out it have tended either to claim ignorance. 4he memories Guoted in this chapter have suggested that as we grow older we lose an affinity with the world around us. except as an occasional conseGuence of disease or traumatic in>ury.4his decline is at first very slow !ut after a while increases percepti!ly.

seeing how many num!ers you can put into a given code within a given time4he test on which the people in the oldest group 1from << I <D years old2 did relatively worst was the picture arrangement. !lock design is using coloured !locks to copy a design on a card. o!>ect assem!ly and digit sym!ol. the information test is a general knowledge GuiF. similarities involves finding points in common !etween. o!>ect assem!ly is a kind of simple >igsaw or cut-up picture that you have to reassem!le. digit span finds out how long a list of num!ers you can remem!er after someone has read it out to you.4he chart !elow shows the ages at which the highest scores were achieved in the ten different testsAge group Number of tests in which the mean score for the group was: abo e !"# abo e !$# %""# of the top score ? C D D D 1= 1= ? 9 1 2 9 ? < D ? = = = = 2 1 9 9 1 = = 1/ 19 1< 1? 1B I 1D 2= I 29 2< I 2D /= I /9 /< I /D . for instance the handle on a door. in which they did a!out as well as the nine-year-olds.4hey were also at the nine-year-old level on the digit sym!ol testAs might !e expected.(e used a !attery of tests to which he gave the names information. the test they did !est on was the general knowledge test.8ery roughly. a pear and an orange. and the digit sym!ol test is mainly a matter of speed. and most of the scores were pretty good !y the age of thirteen. picture arrangement is putting pictures in order so that they tell a story. picture completion. picture completion reGuires you to notice what is missing from a picture. say.1< 0echsler had tested groups of !etween <= and 12< people in each of a num!er of age-ranges. picture arrangement. these terms may need some explanation. comprehension.Apart from arithmetic. arithmetic. the comprehension test asks for responses to fairly a!stract Guestions such as 50hy are laws necessary65. !lock design. digit span. similarities. in which they were as good as children of twelve:n all the tests the highest scores came !etween the ages of fifteen and thirty.

In order to make comparison simpler.1? 4he results of the different age-groups on two different tests. Scores have been re-calculated as percentages of the maximum score attained by any age group. This simplifies comparison of the results of different tests. and on the test as a whole.4he su!-tests chosen are the ones in which the oldest group did relatively !est and relatively least well. are given in the diagram. . (The numbers refer to ages). the mean scores for each group are given as percentages of the highest mean score attained !y any group- This graph is based on figures taken from the Measurement and Appraisal of Adult Intelligence by David Wechsler.

to the relief of everyone over thirty. so that it could !e shown that older people retained at least some of their skills. 4hese figures are so startling that it is not surprising that most people refused to accept them.4he former includes knowledge. and ridiculous to argue that in that case there must have !een even more things that they had !een a!le to do when they were eleven !ut could no longer do now they were fifty"sychologists were eager to find fault with the tests and 0echsler3s interpretation of them. 4: 4(* )I. the conclusion here is that decline in intellectual a!ility is clearly part of the aging picture. picture completion eleven-year-old level I arithmetic.In 1DBB #ack 7otwinick summed up the position as follows:4he 3no decline3 side of the controversy J catches the imagination and seems to please. reasoning. and they may !e smaller in magnitude4hey may also include fewer functions- :ne theory that supports this statement is that intelligence can !e divided into two !road types I crystallised intelligence and fluid intelligence.&I. picture arrangement.It was discovered that each generation scored more highly than the previous one. is !elieved to increase up until the age of a!out C=. o!>ect assem!ly nine-year-old level I digit sym!ol. drops after the age of a!out 1<4he natural reaction of the middle-aged and elderly is to play down the importance of fluid intelligence. it >ust meant they had always !een less intelligent4his defence of the intelligence of the elderly had some effect. and the later includes a!ility to solve new and unusual pro!lems.4he tests were criticised for !eing irrelevant and uninteresting to older people.It was o!vious that there were a lot of things fifty-year-olds could do that they had not !een a!le to do when they were eleven. similarities. so lower results for older people did not necessarily mean that their intelligence had declined.*A%4I:. comprehension. !ut it was not entirely successful. and that those who continued to use their !rains retained their a!ility. !oth recent and old..It was suggested that intelligence only declined if it was not used.)luid intelligence.J L(oweverM these declines may start later in life than heretofore thought. overall score ten-year-old level I digit span.Intelligence was divided up into various categories.It is only when its !enefits are a!solutely o!vious. . skills. on the other hand. after reviewing the availa!le literature.evertheless. voca!ulary and comprehension. !lock design. memory span and mental agility%rystallised intelligence.to <D-year-olds were at the following levels: twelve-year-old level I information.1B In the different tests the <<.

All I have sought to provide is a clear example of our irrational determination to deny all !ut the most self-evident superiorities of youth. in their !ook &ow 'abies (hin) *pu!lished in the @ A as (he Scientist in the Crib2.7ut !y now it largely has !een won.5 they say. replications across la!oratories. however. and old people are extremely reluctant to give it up.50e are !orn with the a!ility to discover the secrets of the universe and of our own minds. not on scientific grounds !ut merely !ecause."iaget himself thought that new!orn !a!ies had only reflexes. no matter how methodologically rigorous. in fact.ome aspects of intelligence certainly decline with ageH nevertheless all evidence of decline with age is eagerly contested.4his is expressed in delightfully accessi!le terms !y three American professors of psychology. as #ack 7otwinick says. good arguments.It was as if the very idea that !a!ies could think and !elieve. slightly animate vegeta!les .carrots that could cry.If society were conducted rationally it would seem important that in most situations young and old should make decisions together.' $ore recent research has produced new evidence of the superiority of the young !rain. is not relevant to my present argument. and the conversion of the next generation- +ater in the !ook the authors give some more technical detail: . 5the 3no-decline3 side of the controversy catches the imagination and seems to please-5 (:0 7A7I* 4(I. !ut the real weapons were the familiar scientific ones: careful and ingenious experiments. we still heard respected psychologists proclaim that new!orn !a!ies had no cortex. 7erkeley.@nfortunately power goes with age. Andrew $eltFoff from the @niversity of 0ashington and "atricia 'uhl from the @niversity of 0ashington. when we were in college.1C as in computer-programming or the currency markets. was deeply unaccepta!leJ the scientific !attle was hard-fought.At first every new discovery a!out young !a!ies.. was greeted !y a kind of profound dis!elief that seemed to go !eyond the usual scientific reluctance to accept new discoveries. that they had only the simplest automatic responses. and with the drive to explore and experiment until we do. that young people are allowed to take their places at the top. that they were. learn and know. and later: 4wenty-five years ago.opnik from the @niversity of %alifornia.4he sociological Feitgeist may have contri!uted to the victory. Alison .4he days when "itt the Eounger could !ecome "rime $inister at the age of twenty-four are past4he relationship !etween age and power.

!ut reaches adult levels only at a!out eighteen-1 J At !irth." . when there a!out 1<. testing out new theories and changing old theories when they learn something new. "does not fall to adult levels until about eighteen. it certainly slows down- And all this leads to the conclusion: If you com!ine the psychological and neurological evidence.It !egins to decline around then.<== synapses.4his !ristling activity remains at twice the level of an adult until the child reaches the age of nine or ten. at least if !eing smart means !eing a!le to learn something new- 1 The last part of this sentence would be clearer if it read. each neuron in the cere!ral cortex has around 2.0e saw that this is also the picture that comes out of psychological studies of development.4his is actually many more than in an adult !rain.4he num!er of synapses reaches its peak at two to three years of age.=== synapses per neuron.1D 4he !rain3s energy consumption reaches full adult levels at around two years of age."reschool children have !rains that are literally more active. it is hard to avoid concluding that !a!ies are >ust plain smarter than we are.7y three the little child3s !rain is actually twice as active as an adult !rain. and much more flexi!le than oursJ All of this research is consistent with the idea that childhood is the time when we learn most and when our !rains as well as our minds are most open to new experience.Although the process doesn3t stop in adulthood. more connected.7a!ies and young children are perpetually exploring and experimenting.

and were told to choose whatever colours they liked4hey o!eyed reluctantly and soon everyone3s paper was a soggy mess. given !y Anthony tirling. and when they had all finished tirling went to a cup!oard and !rought out an armful of paintings. I.4*.(e was reading a poem !y 7audelaire. 3making us screw up in this way and then letting us realise that there was something !etter we could learn. the patterns so inventive I clearly they had !een done !y some advanced class. and to make on the paper the marks left !y a clown riding on and off it on a one-wheeled !icycle.50hat sort of patterns65 they asked.&uly the students covered their paper with a mess of !lack tracks.2= CHAPTER TWO THE THINGS WHICH I HAVE SEEN A. !ut they3d done it with such love and care and sensitivity..3 I thought. he was astonished to find himself weeping over a !ook.+@&* A7:@4 "AI. In his !ook +mpro 'eith #ohnstone descri!es his first art lesson at his training college.4he students were told to mix up thick.4hen they had to put colours in the shapes the clown had made50hat colours65 they asked.In another passage #ohnstone descri!es how.omething happened to me in that moment from which I have never recovered.5*t mon . when he was eighteen.I was speechless.It was the final confirmation that my education had !een a destructive process- 4he transition !etween the eight-year-old who loves colour and the student who wants to conform is echoed in other areas. 3these are !y young childrenN3 4hey were all !y eight-year-oldsN It was >ust an exercise to make them use the whole area of the paper. 5the teacher would have !een appalled.30hat a great idea. and were told to draw whatever patterns they felt like.4he colours were so !eautiful. >ammy !lack paint.3 I said.I remem!er how impressed I was hearing a lecturer at %am!ridge who wept and analysed simultaneously.5If I3d wept over a poem in the classroom. which he spread on the floor#ohnstone goes on like this: It was the same exercise done !y other students.30ait a minute. and generally speaking it is the teachers who engineer the deterioration. !ut I was seeing them immediately after my failure.4hen I noticed that these little masterpieces were signed in very scrawly writing.I realised that my school had !een teaching me not to respond-5 If we were lucky. !ut tirling added to the confusion !y telling them to put patterns on the colours.lumly they dau!ed on. since the advanced students were so much !etter-3 $ay!e I exaggerate when I remem!er how !eautiful the paintings were.5 he says.4I. when we were older we may have !een encouraged to respond again.

$y mother had a !ook of children3s songs in which the story of the 7a!es in the 0ood had !een !lacked out with thick lines of ink !ecause when she sang it to us my sister and I had !een so distressed.It is extremely difficult to confess to virtue. a few years later.0e changed.21 coeur.ose and (he &appy Prince !ecause the !irds suffered as a result of their efforts to do good. or the times when my friends and I hid so that they could not !e taken home."art of growing up is learning not to cry over fairy-tales.0e train ourselves to withstand emotion.In my world it was not done to show emotion. or to cheat I which was another despica!le action I in order to avoid winningAs I write these words I find it necessary to adopt a mocking tone as a form of self-defence. or some of us did. and. !y %andida. !ut it was too late. and playing cards with my mother I had sometimes to face the terri!le dilemma of whether to win. and my reluctance to humiliate any adult !y !eating them in a game. particularly (he Nightingale and the .If I were writing of the time I ran away. !ut in learning not to care too much a!out the . or the times when I made the adults caring for me cry. and it was of Guite a different order to the deepest reactions to works of art that I have had more recently. and pro!a!ly we felt it was somewhat shameful even to feel emotion.It is also !asic moral assumptions.I* :) $:.It is not surprising that most people writing of their own lives prefer to make themselves out to !e hardI still remem!er my distress over the :scar 0ilde stories.5Eou get the contrast there. comme un !loc rouge et glacO.0hen.4hese attitudes resulted in some curious !ehaviourH I once reported myself for talking in the dormitory after lights out.I do not remem!er the occasion of the singing. I corrected his mistakes and ticked them allI wept when I read :scar 0ilde3s fairy tales. rather surprisingly. then I would not feel the same anxiety a!out !eing taken for an im!ecile.A+ A0A. when we were each supposed to !e checking our neigh!our3s answers to some testH instead of putting ticks !y the right answers and crosses !y the wrong ones.In the last ten years or so I have !een moved to tears !y :thello.I remem!er my own desperate determination always to tell the truth.* It is not only aesthetic responses that are hampered !y adult interference. rouge I et glacO-5 I remem!er it and I was impressed !y it !ut at the age of twenty-one I used the anecdote as a >oke to amuse people at parties.I committed another act of shameful !enevolence at school at the age of nine. !ut I remem!er the !lacked-out verses and the explanation. !ut the experiences were trivial compared with my childhood grief.*.5 he read with wet eyes. a friend told me that he had !een moved to tears !y an exhi!ition of paintings !y amuel "almer I was envious that such a thing was possi!le$*$:.

7ailey didn3t lie to me.$aya Angelou gives an example of heroism on the part of her !rother and a!solute trust on her own part in an account of what happened !etween them in hospital after she had !een raped !y her mother3s loverIn the hospital. still in the hope of encouraging recognition rather than making a logical argument. and perhaps more so then !ecause such a possi!ility had not previously occurred to me. let me Guote *ric . so impossi!le.After a pause the Guestion was repeated. 5irrepara!le5. wouldn3t it flood the world and all the innocent people65 )or nearly a year afterwards she didn3t speak at all- .(ow I despised the man for making me lie.0hen I explained that I couldn3t tell !ecause the man would kill him.4his event did not cause me much pain.As a much stronger example of the vigour of a child3s morals.ill againI remem!er when I first !ecame aware of the possi!ility of a!solute and irrepara!le in>ustice$y mother accused me of doing something I had not done.I forget what it was.. 7ailey told me that I had to tell who did that to me.I won3t let him-3 And of course I !elieved him.otice the num!er of a!solutes in his description I the word 5a!solute5 itself. and !ecause the man himself looked at her and willed her to say no..I clamped my teeth shut. and her !rother 7ailey was nine0hen the case came to court she was asked whether the man had touched her !efore.It was a trivial matter. !ut the downright monstrosity of the situation.5 she says. or the man would hurt another little girl. 5incredi!le5.If it escaped.o I told him- 0hen this took place $aya Angelou was eight. I3d hold it in. as such and in itself. to rush off my tongue if I tried to open my mouth. gave me even at the time. a real shock .. 7ailey said knowingly 3(e can3t kill me. 5lumped in my throat..54he lie. !ut it made me thinkH it seemed so incredi!le. and I couldn3t get air. 5impossi!le5 I and the phrases 5downright monstrosity5 and 5mentally horri!le-5 It is partly the overwhelming nature of moral demands that makes us so eager to limit them and control them as we get older$ore serious dilemmas give rise to greater moral !ehaviour. so mentally horri!le- .I could feel the evilness flowing through my !ody and waiting. moreover the affair was so small I wasn3t even punished for it.22 fate of characters in fiction we diminish its power to move us.0hat is worse is that we also learn a certain indifference to the sufferings of real peopleI Guote my own comparatively trivial memories of moral dilemmas in the hope of prompting similar memories in the reader.he said no !ecause she thought her family would !e furious if they knew that !efore the rape she had found some comfort in what she !elieved to !e the man3s affection. pent up..

averat. though important in ystem A.. and feel guilt and ashamed a!out the grief they are causing their parents.*. and who made no effort to understand mine.wen .%* %hildren are aware of the differences !etween their own moral principles and those of the adults around them5It was the same old Guandary.ystem A and ystem 7 overlapped and agreed in disapproving of dishonesty.4here was an army of adults.5 wrote $aya Angelou of herself at the age of eight.there are accounts of children3s moral actions from an adult point of view. cruelty and cowardlinessH !ut otherwise they had little in common. had the same old Guandary too"rayer was not the only idea of the grown-ups that seemed to me wrong in itself.3so as not to worry them3 and 3!ecause I don3t want to !e a nuisance-3 $any children express concern a!out the time and money spent on them.I had always lived it. a!out his sister *dith- . ironically.:!edience.4he !ehaviour of children who are dying in hospital is often extremely movingAccording to another doctor 1*dmund "ellegrino2 many children ask their doctor whether they are dying long !efore their parents consider telling them. which I will call ystem AH and this only partly coincided with my own private set of values.4he usual adult response to a child3s high moral demands is illustrated in this passage !y :s!ert itwell. often to conceal this from her parents.4hey hope that !y concealing the fact that they are dying from them they can spare them some grief4his reversal of the adult view of the situation. in her secure middle-class home. ystem 7. in which it is the child that has to !e protected. and the child3s first concern is. had no place at all in ystem 7- 4his Guestion of the importance of o!edience is a fundamental one.I shall have more to say a!out it laterIn heila and %elia 'itFinger3s !ook (al)ing with Children about things that really matter.4hey had a complete set of values for 7adness and .2/ &I))*. shows how adults often underestimate their own children..oodness. and how much more rewarding their relationship could !e if they were a!le to appreciate their children as they really areI hope I have given enough examples to show that children often set themselves extraordinarily high standards.I was always trou!led !y the confusion of trying to reconcile the two incompati!le codes. whose motives and movements I >ust couldn3t understand.

who worked next door.$ay!e we are all that way in the !eginning.I learned that at the very !eginning. #ohannes.0hy should an adult !e terrified !y a child3s moral views6 If she is wrong. until I thought to suggest helping !y sending her pocket money. #ohn3s !oys I all of them. indiscriminately: +ena.4his is how he felt a!out !lack people when he was very youngI loved them all.It seemed so ordinary and so easy to love them. in which I shall look again at what psychologists have to say. they tried to force her to comply to their own measurements.If you were friendly. the rich. or that sport was of more value to life than art2 terrified my mother- *ven if it is used slightly facetiously.(er seriousness. outh Africa3s first nationalist prime minister who was one of the founders of the apartheid system. the waiters in the hotel down the road. she was terrified that she herself might !e o!liged to re>ect the whole structure of her social world. "iet. #ames. the other "iet. they lit up and laughed and returned your love a hundredfold. instead of allowing her to find her own range.ian $alan was the son of a right-wing Afrikaner family. who are capa!le of so much more.he was not terrified for *dith3s sake. rich. in the same manner that she had taught herself to read.+oving natives was a very good investment.In order to grow up an accepta!le mem!er of this society. $iriam3s children and teeming grandchildren. 7etty.(e was a descendant of &aniel )ranPois $alan.4he other Guotations I have used descri!ed children3s attitudesH this is a description of an adult reaction. was. 5terrified5 is an extraordinarily strong word in this context.4he source of terror for the itwells3 mother. !ut we have schooled ourselves to !e sufficiently indifferent to avoid the inconvenience of continual tears4here is one more passage I wish to Guote !efore going on to my next chapter. that she knew *dith was right. or are taught otherwise- . I suggest. and it remains true to this day. and she has done this for some weeks now-3 0anting to help !y giving toys or money is a common response even in these very young children- 0e adults. may perhaps give toys or money. $iriam. the child would have to a!andon many of her accurate moral perceptions(al)ing with children about things that matter gives another example of a way in which a child3s moral concern can outmatch an adult3sAnother woman said that <-year-old tephanie 3cried and cried a!out the starving !a!ies in *thiopia I she was inconsola!le for a while. surely the child can simply !e corrected. and an attitude of criticism which gradually developed in her concerning current class !eliefs 1such as that the poor deserved to !e poor.$ay!e we >ust grow out of it.29 As she grew older.

and we are taught otherwise- .0e are all that way in the !eginning@nfortunately we grow out of it. !ut it is not >ust !lack people that are easy to love.4o a small child it is so ordinary and so easy to love people.2< I think .ian $alan is right. it is anyone who responds to your affection with love and laughter.

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